Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The cost of a gravedigger in Bromley Kent 1818

As I transcribe the Dunn funeral accounts book for 1818 I came across a useful table of charges for Mr Harris to dig graves.
Harris arrange for digging graves
4 feet                               one shilling and sixpence
5 feet                               two shillings
6 feet                               two shillings and sixpence
7 feet                               three shillings and sixpence
8 feet                               four shillings and sixpence
and filling in sixpence
9 feet                               six shillings
10 feet                             eight shillings and sixpence
12 feet                             fifteen shillings
additonal depths are noted at 13 feet 6inches and fifteen feet which are not priced and from funeral accounts are negotiable according to the supply of timber shoring by Edward Dunn who itemises this where relevant. There are also references in the accounts to occasions where grave digging involves disturbance and returfing an adjacent burial.
Harris was also quoted as
Opening vaults                 four shillings and sixpence
filling in vaults                 sixpence
digging a single vault        two shillings and tenpence
digging a double vault       3 shillings
and an addional entry
charge Carpenter 9 feet grave and turfing for 12 shillings.
Dunn records a number of vault burials inside the church with details of charges. Dunn used timber framing  for differing size arches to have a bricklayer form a brick vault. There could be no standard size arch as a lead coffin with an outside coffin could vary in size and each vault would therefore differ. In several accounts the person filling the grave was expected to be dressed in funeral attire during the service and is supplied with an appropriate colour co-ordinated hat band gloves cloak and favour.
In this folio there is also an undated page recording the duties of the sexton at Bromley responsible for cleaning  after opening and filling a vault in the church.
The earth at Bromley after turf and topsoil removal is heavy clay and involves heavy manual labour to dig to depth; depending on the height of the water table standing water may also be a problem. It appears that the floor of the parish church was partly flag stone but some references suggest that part may have been bare earth.
The choice of a lead coffin for the more affluent would suggest that some attempt to protect against water entry into the coffin.The lead coffin would be formed by plumbers laying lead over a wooden shell to which the lead would be nailed. I remain to be convinced that a lead coffin soldered after wards would in fact be water tight but in both Georgian and Regency tastes lead coffins were sought as the emerging transcript will record.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Doctor Thomas Ilott live births for Penge Common 1809-1815

I am grateful to London Metropolitan Archive for assistance in my efforts to try to match the records contained in the Folio C account of Thomas Ilott held at Bromley Archives reference 617/1 with possible parish entries.
Ilott records live births at Penge Common,Elmsend (now called Elmers End) and Monks Orchard. Each of these was situated in the area which formed a detached part of the Ancient Parish of Battersea Saint Mary. There is evidence in Battersea parish records of baptisms giving the abode of "the hamlet of Penge" but not for any of the entries in Ilott. Sydenham births are included in the Lewisham Saint Mary Bishops Trancripts and one birth at Sydenham was located in this way.
There was agreement that the nearest parish church for Penge Common was Beckenham and this is where most children were indeed baptised. However church fire at Beckenham and the fragile state of the fire and water damaged original poses a challenge for the researcher. I am currently working on a transcript using the Ilott dates of birth and surnames to fill in material now lost in the original to arrive at a transcript which matches chidren to parents.
Ilott records 10 children born at Elmsend of these the Beckenham parish register records baptism of six of these children.
There are 3 children of the same family at Monks Orchard recorded by Ilott one of whom is baptised at Beckenham.
There are 6 chidren baptised at Beckenham and only two who cannot be identified as baptised; a further child recorded by Ilott cannot be identified in the year of birth in the fire and water damaged Beckenham register for 1809 or subsequently.

Doctor Thomas Ilott live births in Lewisham parish 1809-1814

I am grateful to London Metropolitan Archives (and Lewisham Archives) for their assistance in identifying those of the Ilott live births contained in the surviving Lewisham Saint Mary Bishop's transcripts. For those seeking Lewisham baptisms  in the period from 1799-1821 the original parish registers were lost in the church fire of 1831 and the surviving Bishops Transcripts were the ony record to search for the years 1809-1814.
Fortunately the Ilott Folio C held at Bromley Archives reference 617/1 has now been transcribed for publication at Kent Online Parish clerks and I hope that my transcript will not only provide a record source for those baptised in Lewisham Ancient Parish but those children born at Southend and Rushey Green who were not baptised in either Bromley or Lewisham parishes.
Fortunately for those who are unable to visit London Metropolitan Archives readily to examine the Bishop's Transcripts LMA have published images of the two series online in partnership with Ancestry. Ancestry images can be viewed in different browsers and some parts of images may not be clear. I have found that by adjusting zoom I can generally overcome problems but it is also possible to run a basic viewer to reveal the whole image.
Ilott records a total of 28 children delivered to families at Southend and Rushey Green. Of that total 16 children are not recorded in the Bishops Transcripts of the parish. The dozen recorded baptisms have 5 children recorded at Rushey green the remainder at Southend.
The availability of an accurate date of birth and surname of a child in the medical ledger may assist those facing no apparent record of the child of identified parents.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Item:for bell tolling at Bromley 5 shillings

As I have transcribed the Dunn's funeral accounts from 1803 onwards the fee for tolling at the parish church remains consistent even when the burial is in another parish.
The Dunn family had two considerable advantages in conducting funerals as their business premises on the North side of Market square were large enough to stable hoarses and accommodate a hearse. When building work to the Dunn premises was carried out in the early years of the twentieth century a stone marked for John Dunn was dated 1710 and therefore the surviving funeral accounts from 1803 are those of a well established business in the town which had provided drapery and furniture for townsfolk and the large households of the district. As upholders the Dunns therefore had a clientele who were established customers and since William Dunn's appointment as Vestry Clerk in 1721 one of the family had served as parish clerk or churchwarden continuously. William died in 1801 as did John Dunn 1735-1801.John Dunn 1765-1817 and Edward Dunn 1774-1830 Edward Dunn 1774-1830 were engaged in the business covered in the early funeral account years. I will blog in future about the funeral customs observed at Bromley.
The tolling of bells at time of burial had been restored and if the 5 shilling fee seems considerable reflect on what was involved at Bromley.
The peal of 8 bells dated from 1773 when the Parish Vestry records paying Thomas Janaway to recast the 5 bells dated from the 16th century to form 8. For a funeral or burial the bell was not rung in the traditional way by pulling the rope and revolving the bell but the "teller" would involve leaving the bell stationary and moving to hit the required number of times.
To begin the bell would be tolled to indicate whether a child (three) woman (six) or man (nine) after a pause, then the age would be tolled often abbreviated into ten pause and number of years so that 69 years would be 6 pause then 9.
The fee charged would be shared between parish and lead ringer who would also be offered refreshments. Since the clergy at Bromley and clerk and sexton were attired for the funeral the ringers would occupy the tower.
The evidence of Dunn funeral accounts is that their services would be required on certain days more than once.
The Bromley tower was used regularly for celebratory peals as well as at many weddings. Presumably a similar fee would be expected.

Monday, 29 December 2014

The burial of Elizabeth Grisbrook 30 December 1804 at Bromley

The burial register of Bromley for 1804 (see Kent Online Parish Clerks transcript records that 37 year old Elizabeth was buried on the 30 December 1804 at Bromley. For many that would be sufficient information as part of family history research.
Bromley Archives holds many volumes of the funeral accounts of Dunn and Sons (Upholders) or Funeral Directors as we now refer to them. The forthcoming transcript series to be published by Kent Online Parish Clerks during 2015 adds information to this burial. The account books were kept from 1803 and Mister Grisbrook's account 37 in Folio 1 for £5-13s-6d requires an extra deep grave to be dug and a small deal coffin for still born to be buried on that of Elizabeth who we infer died in labour. The grave would also accommodate other family members in future. John and Elizabeth's other children may be found in the transcript series for Bromley.
In 1804 in other funeral accounts we discover a fee of 5 shillings for bell tolling at Bromley a winter deep grave excavation cost 7 shillings a sixpence whereas a summer one cost four shillings and sixpence or less and some wealthy deceased had a lead inner coffin with a wooden outer. This form of burial required 8 bearers and they required refreshments which were provided at approximately a shilling a head.
It is easy to overlook such records in our desire to record generations on a pedigree;often worthwhile to search the catalogue of local Archives and to look for "other records" transcriptions from Online Parish Clerks work in those records at Archives.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Red Cow Hayes Lane Hayes Kent

As I review the transcript of the medical records of Doctor Thomas Ilott my attention was drawn to the people contained in the prescription ledger resident at the Red Cow 1809-1812.
Most local public houses are well known but the Red Cow of 1809 has long disappeared and I was intrigued to look at both the name and location.
In 1751 when the noted Mrs Elizabeth Montague took the lease of a house at Hayes;Rachel Knowles blog about her may be read here. Visits to her home at Hayes enabled her friends to enjoy "wholesome fare of brown bread, sincerity, red cow's milk,which afford good nourishment to mind and body".
I find the reference to local red cows interesting and the lease of the house in Hayes is also of interest because when Mrs Montague ended William Pitt took over the lease and eventually had a house built in Hayes where his son William (the Younger) was born.
I find the hints that local cows were red in the eighteenth century significant in the choice of name for a local hostelry.
The references to the Red Cow and residents there contained in the Ilott prescription ledger are therefore valuable in our knowledge of a local hostelry in Hayes Lane now long forgotten.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

John Bowdler of Pickhurst Manor

One of the prominent families contained in the medical prescriptions ledger of Doctor Thomas Ilott Surgeon of Bromley is that of John Bowdler who resided at Pickhurst an ancient manor house which was within the parish of Hayes Kent.
The Ilott account is of interest due to Ilott's treatment of a number of members of the family.
John Bowdler (the elder) 1746-1823 had inherited a fortune when his eminent banker father died in 1785 and lived in Hayes for the years 1809-1811 covered by the Ilott Folio C ledger;the account is carried over in to Folio D which does not survive but covers 1812 onwards.
John's brother Thomas and sister Harriet or Henrietta Maria Bowdler were authors of the expurgated version of 24 Shakespeare plays in the 1807 The Family Shakspeare which was to give to the English language the phrase to bowdlerise. For more detail see Thomas Bowdler entry Wikipedia
 For further biography of John the elder derived from the Dictionary of National Biography see John Bowdler Wikipedia
Ilott treats with the prescription of Orange Peas or Citrus Aurantium John daughter Elizabeth Bowdler throughout 1809 and 1810. Elizabeth dies on 4 December 1810.My blog outlines the discovery of this unique prescription in the folio orange pea (citrus aurantium)
Also treated in the same period by Ilott are John's two sons who are eminent in their own lives.
John Bowdler the Younger 2 February 1783-2 February 1815 a lawyer and posthumous author and poet who in 1810 developed tuberculosis and spent two years in Southern Europe during his illness. It is possible that his uncle who had practiced medicine in the previous century before travelling widely in Southern Europe may have influenced his itinerary but as Ilott treats him in 1810 before he leaves for Europe and again in 1811 and the episodes of treatment presumably lead to the decision for him to leave London for Europe and subsequently to reside with an aunt near Portsmouth. His father published posthumously John the Younger's "selected Pieces in Prose and Verse". An 1818 review of this by William Roberts The British Review and Critical Journal 1818 contains some biographical detail of his childhood and legal career.
Thomas Bowdler the Younger 13 March 1782-12 November 1856 or Reverend Thomas Bowdler MA  was at the time of Ilott's treatment still a curate but was to become a Prebend at Saint Paul's Cathedral in the years prior to his death. It is likely that his wife Phoebe is also referred to in Ilott as "Mrs Thomas B".